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Volume 41 Issue 18 • Sept. 8-14, 2011
now in our 41th season

We Remember

by Sarah Teach

Ten years ago this week, we watched horrified but unable to turn away as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in NY crumbled into smoking rubble on that crisp, clear September morning. It was a ghastly moment in American history, and none of us will ever forget where we were that day. As for me, that Tuesday was the only day I was ever allowed to watch T.V. when I was home sick from school. I remember crying under the embroidered comforter on my parents’ big blue La-Z-Boy and forgetting how badly my body felt. Meanwhile, my fellow schoolmates were tuned in to the channels streaming the events, essentially any and every channel.

Taryn Daub, who was a senior at Nantucket High School that year, remembers that students were put in front of televisions pretty quickly after the first tower was hit. “We saw the second crash,” she says. “But I don’t think anybody had any idea what was going on. It was one of the few times that you have a group of teenagers together and nobody’s talking. It was pretty scary. There was a lot of gasping.”

Watching the events unfurl from the same building as Daub was Mike Alvarez, an IT manager who had just started working for Nantucket Public Schools ten days earlier. “The internet came to a screeching halt,” recalls Alvarez. “New York is a hub for network traffic. Or at least it was until 2001.”  He mentions that it became almost impossible to obtain news information due to the blockage. “I saw three or four people running for the library, which is something you don’t really do inside a high school, but that’s where the TV was on.”

Next door to Daub and Alvarez was 12-year-old Rob Smith. The students at Cyrus Pierce Middle School, however, were a little less informed than their older counterparts. Smith recalls being confused when his best friend approached him between classes and said, “Somebody just started World War Three.” Smith says, “We didn’t actually see anything until after lunch, when we were all told to return to our homerooms. Our teachers explained what happened as best they could. Kids had lots and lots of questions.”

Two miles down the road at Nantucket Memorial Airport, then-manager Fred Jaeger was choking back surprise and amazement that such a thing could happen. He says, “We shut down the entire aviation system to try to identify other terrorist activity.” Initially, there was not much information available; however, a few things quickly became clear: “Long gone were the days when you could casually drive up to the terminal building, park the car on the curb outside and receive your visitors, or carry a Swiss Army Knife through security,” reminisces Jaeger.

Our Nantucket community will remember that fateful day this Sunday. The town will host a memorial service for islanders to reflect on the many lives that were lost, and to honor our veterans, past and present during a ceremony on September 11 at the Nantucket Fire Station at 131 Pleasant Street.  This memorial and will include members of the Nantucket Fire Department, the Nantucket Police Department, the American Legion, VFW, U.S. Coast Guard-Station Brant Point, and various public officials. Chaplains will offer Christian prayers, accompanied by music and the tolling of a bell. Refreshments will be provided. The public is asked to arrive and assemble no later than 9:45 a.m. so that the 30-minute ceremony can begin promptly at 9:55 a.m. There will be seating available for people with physical challenges.

The Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, at 11 Orange Street, will open its doors at 10 a.m. for silent prayer and reflection. At 10:45 a.m., there will be a service to remember and honor the victims and the heroes of 9/11 and to embrace hope again. Rev. David M. Horst will offer a speech that poses questions worth pondering. For example, “How have we, the American people, changed since 9/11? What have we learned? Will peaceful resolution ever be possible?” During the service, the church bell will be rung in remembrance.

Also on Sunday, September 11, the Egan Maritime Institute will host its annual Lifesavers Recognition Day, which is held to honor local heroes who have saved lives. This year, it will also serve as a commemoration to the lifesavers in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. The tribute event will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum at 158 Polpis Road. Everyone in the community is invited to join in any of these commemorative services to honor the memory of our fallen American brethren.


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